Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 10 of the 2020 French Open.

Why Exactly was Alexander Zverev Playing?

Okay sure, the German competed over the weekend, ultimately losing his battle against Italian Jannik Sinner, simply because he needed to play. He had made it to the fourth round of one of the four (or in the case of our year, three) biggest events of the season, why wouldn’t he play?

If this were a normal season in a normal year, Zverev would have been entirely warranted in playing his match—but this is far from your typical tennis season: we’re playing Roland-Garros in early October, remember?

The underlying question over wondering why Zverev played at all against Sinner is wondering why he played if he was feeling “completely sick,” as he told  reporters after his loss, and if he couldn’t breathe?

In the middle of a pandemic that has affected as many as 35 million people worldwide and which has killed well over a million of them, why was the 23-year-old Zverev even given the chance to decide whether to play a tennis match if he experienced what excessively look like common COVID-19 symptoms?

The Answer?

The answer, if you’re the Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT), is that Zverev was up-to-date on his tests and that he simply didn’t consult the tournament doctors before his match against Sinner. You know, easy breezy. Nothing they possibly could have done about it.

Essentially, Zverev played his fourth round match because…he didn’t tell anyone else how he felt before it was too late (i.e. after his loss)? Yikes.

There’s probably a lesson there somewhere. Perhaps it’s that Zverev and his team are selfish or reckless. Maybe it’s that the FFT and tournament doctors should ensure that everyone speaks to them, rather than the opposite. Maybe it’s that five full between tests is way too long and that tests should be done daily for every player, employee, etc., at Roland-Garros.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s that we simply shouldn’t have an event like Roland-Garros at all in the first place.

Moving forward until the end of the event, we’ll run through all singles quarterfinals matches played on that day and give our predictions for how they might unfold. (You can see the full day schedule here.)

Matches of the Day

Court Philippe Chatrier: Elina Svitolina [3] vs Nadia Podoroska (Second match of the day)

It all comes down to third-seed Elina Svitolina now. The top half of the women’s draw was decimated over the first week of the event to the point where the Ukrainian is now outnumbered among the final four of this section. Let’s give Elina the advantage at least for another round here: Svitolina in two tight sets.

Court Philippe Chatrier: Dominic Thiem [3] vs Diego Schwartzman [12] (Third match of the day)

The times are great for 28-year-old Diego Schwartzman, who every day and week redefines what it means to be a short man on the ATP and the (lack of) limitations that comes with the small stature. If he can simply get by an opponent that struggled mightily in his previous match in the form of Dominic Thiem, the Argentine would make the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career. Let’s shock the world. Schwartzman in four sets.

Court Philippe Chatrier: Iga Swiatek vs Martina Trevisan (Fourth match of the day)

Polish Iga Swiatek used her obliteration of top-seed and title favourite Simona Halep to introduce herself to the rest of the tennis world. Swiatek is currently the third-highest ranked teenager in women’s tennis, but could very well be its most promising. She’s matched up against qualifier Martina Trevisan on day 10 and there’s no reason to expect she couldn’t beat the Italian. Same goes for a likely semifinal against Svitolina in the next round, though that win would be much more difficult. First things first. Swiatek grabs the win here in two sets.

Court Philippe Chatrier: Rafael Nadal [2] vs Jannik Sinner (Fifth match of the day)

Look, Sinner has been undeniably great all tournament long, playing with intensity, poise and grace that go beyond his young age. But we don’t need to complicate things here: it’s a classic case of being big, but not big enough. Rafael Nadal in three sets.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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